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News / Clark County News

Strategies Clark County residents can use to reduce waste from holiday meals, gift-giving

Double-check before tossing items into trash or recycling bins

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 22, 2023, 6:07am

We have now entered the season of feasting, gift-giving and, unfortunately, waste.

Crumpled balls of wrapping paper, shopping bags and packaging pile in landfills, as do edible leftovers from holiday celebrations.

Clark County’s Solid Waste Education and Outreach offers these recommendations for minimizing holiday waste.

Meals and table setting: Notice what food already sits in your pantry and refrigerator to avoid overbuying. When the time to prepare meals rolls around, use the online tool “Guest-imator” to figure out how much food is needed to satisfy your guests. Consider opting for reusable dinnerware to reduce what goes to the landfill. Whatever is left over can be sent home with guests, cycled into new meals or composted.

Seasonal decor: Try to avoid buying new festive decorations and instead visit local thrift stores or consignment shops.

Gifts: Consider wrapping presents with sustainable materials, such as newspaper, brown bags or scarves. Even further, experiences — concert tickets, museum passes or restaurant gift cards — can serve as a memorable gift.

Put waste in right place

Some holiday waste is inevitable, so ensure what you’re throwing out makes it to the proper place.

Batteries: Don’t place batteries in garbage or recycling carts, as these can pose a fire hazard for workers transporting them. Instead, take them to designated disposal sites located throughout the county. These drop-off sites can be found on the RecycleRight app or Clark County Public Health’s website, www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/household-hazardous-waste.

Block foam: This material can go into garbage carts, but not Big Blue recycling bins. To recycle block foam, subscribe to specialty recycling services, such as RecyclePlus or Ridwell, or drop it off in Vancouver at Earth Friendly Recycling, 11825 N.E. 113th St., Suite 100.

Plastic film: Air pillows, bubble wrap, bubble mailers and other plastic packaging may go into recycling bins at various grocers and all of Clark County’s transfer stations. However, plastic film cannot go into curbside recycling bins.

String lights: Specialty recyclers can process holiday string lights. Find out more at www.recyclingdoneright.com or on the RecycleRight app.

Gift wrap: Wrapping paper with nonpaper embellishments like glitter, foil and plastic must be thrown in the trash. If the paper is just that — paper — feel free to drop it in your curbside recycling bin.

For further guidance, visit www.recyclingdoneright.com and www.clarkgreenneighbors.org/en/holiday-waste-reduction.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer